One of the hardest things about being an artist is that much of your experience is in the hands of someone else.
The gallerist decides whether or not to represent your work. The reviewer decides whether or not to write about your work. The curator decides whether or not to include your work. The committee decides whether or not to award a grant based on your work. The collector decides whether or not to purchase your work.
Earlier this week I got back in the mail all of the hard-copy materials I had sent to apply for a grant that I was not awarded. As I plucked out from the page protectors all of the items I had sent, in direct response to the grant organization’s specifications, my heart ached, as I remembered how I had felt when I was first assembling my application.
I felt so hopeful that I might receive the grant! I felt so proud of the accomplishments I was documenting in my application! I worked so hard to write a clear and honest request for funds. I considered so carefully which of my paintings to include.
Frankly, I felt like crying. What had I done wrong? Why wasn’t my application accepted?
Then something clicked in my brain, and I slowly looked back over my application. I reread my statement. I looked at the thumbnails of my work that I had printed out. I looked at the folder in which I had assembled the materials. I looked at my resume, with its list of hard-won accomplishments from the past.
I realized: THERE WAS NOTHING ELSE I COULD HAVE DONE. I hadn't done anything wrong. I had submitted the best possible application I could have submitted.
And somehow I felt a wave of relief. I knew I had done my part, and the next step was for the jurors to realize the quality of my work and the worth of my application. I had done as well as I could to present them, and that was all I could have done.
My next feeling was a steely determination to try again … and keep on trying, for as long as it takes.